At the end of His public ministry, Jesus instructed the apostles, Go into the whole world, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ And so it is a joy to witness the baptism of our family, friends, and members of our parish community. But what if the baptism is taking place in a church that is not Catholic?
A listener named Cindy recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ concerned because her granddaughter will be baptized in a Christian (but not Catholic) church. She asked Monsignor Stuart Swetland if it would be a sin to attend the baptism.
“No it wouldn’t be, because it would be a valid baptism,” Msgr. Swetland responded. “It’s OK for us to attend a sacrament that’s valid, and that would be a valid sacrament. We recognize the baptism of other Christian communities as a valid baptism.”
“”I hope that calms your nerves a little, because I know it should be a joyous moment when your granddaughter becomes an adopted daughter of the Father,” he encouraged. “Because that’s what happens in baptism. It’s transformative. It transforms us from just being God’s creation to become His adopted sons and daughters. We become a son or daughter in the Son. And as such, we’re really part of God’s family through a valid baptism.”
While we pray that all people will be united with Jesus in the full communion of the Catholic Church, a baptism is a time of great joy, and so we join with our Christian brothers and sisters in welcoming a new person into God’s family.
“We give praise and thanks to God for every valid baptism out there,” Msgr. Swetland emphasized. “Now, obviously we want people in full communion with Christ and His Church. But a valid baptism is a big first step toward union with Christ and His Church. So we celebrate that, even when it’s not in the Catholic Church.”